Reinhardt was never more commanding than in his close-valued, brightly hued canvases of 1950-1951 that allow for a myriad of variations masterfully balanced in a contrapuntal composition. The “bricks” that expand across the surface of Abstract Painting, 1950 first appear in their nascent form in the canvases of the late 1940s, in which the edges of the color shapes are often softer, more diffuse and less rectilinear. Reinhardt’s palette, which had included vivid pinks, yellows and greens in the 1940s, became more reductive. By 1950, the paintings’ component parts are more flattened and hard-edged, and colors of related tonal quality are interlocked in a complex array of geometric patterns, as witnessed in Abstract Painting, 1950. Thomas B. Hess wrote an acute summation of the refined mastery of Reinhardt’s paintings of the early 1950s in his review of the 1953 one-man show of the artist’s work at Betty Parsons Gallery in New York: “The precious aspect of the small 1913 Mondrians is avoided, as is the overwhelmingly panoramic suction into surface of the giant-scale works of Jackson Pollock or Clyfford Still… The edges of the shapes are neat but not precise, soft, obviously hand-made …The hues too are distributed evenly… Contrasting colors are often adjusted to equivalences… which, in Fairfield Porter’s phrase, make your eyes rock…. But despite their variety, flatness is positively asserted in all the pictures: there is no overlapping, no play with illusion or dimension.” (Thomas B. Hess, “Reinhardt: the Position and Perils of Purity”, Art News, December 1953, p. 26)
Ultimately, light plays a revelatory role in Reinhardt’s hands, contributing to the palpable presence of color in Abstract Painting, 1950 and the other chromatic masterpieces of the artist’s oeuvre. The sophisticated composition is revealed as the hues absorb or reflect the light that plays across the surface, varying according to the time of day or angle of observation. Abstract Painting, 1950 exemplifies Reinhardt’s ability to honor the primal mystery and possibilities of color as an essence and not a metaphor.
Please call 1-800-555-5555 to order a print catalog for this sale.
Online Registration to Bid is Closed for this Sale. Would you like to watch the live sale?Watch Live Sale